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Philosophical Monday: The Three Tools I Wish I Had Known About BEFORE I Had a Baby

Betty and Grandma at our Christmas Card shoot. I didn't mention help in the article b/c I think I've talked ad nauseum already IRL about how happy and lucky we are that my MIL was able to move out here and help us with everything.

Betty and Grandma at our Christmas card shoot. I didn't mention asking your family for help in the article b/c I think I've talked ad nauseum already IRL about how happy and lucky we are that my MIL was able to move out here and help us with everything.

So Betty is 6 months old today in medical terms at least — according to our insurance company, she won’t be 6 months until Dec. 22nd, which means she won’t be able to get her 6 month check-up until then — one day before we’re supposed to get on a plane for our two-week vacation, so I’m going back and forth about whether I should just wait for the 6 month check-up. But that’s a whole nother blog. The point of this blog is that I’ve been thinking a lot lately aboutthe¬† things I wish I had known before I had Betty. So I put a list together in the hopes that it would benefit somebody else out there.

1. I wish I had downloaded every baby book I liked to my Kindle. My husband didn’t get me an official push gift, but he kind of did, b/c the Kindle he got me for our paper anniversary has been used even more since Betty was born. Kindles are awesome for new mothers, b/c you can turn the pages and nurse at the same time. Or you can turn the pages and hold your sleeping baby on an airplane at the same time. Or you can turn it off and go pick up your infant who decided to wake up early from her lap and when you come back to it hours or days later, you don’t have to waste time finding your page. In short, I probably would have stopped reading if it hadn’t been for the Kindle. Fathers-to-be, if your wife likes to read, do her a great boon and get her a Kindle as a push gift. And publishers the reason I didn’t buy your perfectly nice book that any new writing mother would enjoy is because you didn’t publish it on the Kindle — I’m talking to you, Writer Mama and Writing Motherhood. It’s not really self-help if you can’t access it in a convenient format.

2. I wish I had started an exercise program from Week 6. I spent the first three months after getting cleared for exercise, lamenting the fact that I couldn’t seem to get it together to make it to a Baby & Me yoga class or the sun would go down by the time I couldn’t to walk or I couldn’t run on the treadmill and entertain Betty at the same time. Then a few weeks ago it occurred to me that I could spend the money I would have spent on classes on a variety of workout DVDs and then exercise a half an hour after I write every weekday either with or without Betty. So I ordered a Baby & Me Pilates, Yoga, and Mambo DVDs, along with solo bootcamp, dance, and yoga DVDs for when I have a chunk of time w/o Betty. And now I’m happily challenging myself to do some form of exercise for at least 20 minutes a day until the end of the year. I feel great and I only wish I happened upon this easy fix earlier.

But most of all…

3. I wish I had gotten Betty on a routine sooner. I had read in just about every baby book that infants need routine, but I didn’t realize until after I had Betty that I had no idea how one goes about putting her child on a routine. So I got a lot of advice off the internet about how to get her to sleep through the night, but I was having quite a bit of trouble getting her nap schedule together. Then I read Secrets of the Baby Whisperer by Tracy Hogg on the plane back to LA from Dallas after Thanksgiving (yes, on my handy Kindle), and man was I mad at myself for not downloading a book about establishing routines earlier. I won’t give away her trade secrets, just b/c I know a writer’s gotta eat. But basically she makes you break down your baby’s personality AND your mom personality, THEN she goes into how to establish a routine given both.

As it turns out Betty is a Textbook (as opposed to Angel) Baby with more than a touch of the Spirited Baby and I’m as close to Winger as you can get without actually be a full-on Winger. So starting last Tuesday, I labored toward getting Betty on a nap routine and me on a routine where I actually used her nap time efficiently, and it worked! And then yesterday I started working on getting her on a better eating routine, so that she can go down without nursing — which has become a problem, b/c it’s meant that she could never be put down by somebody other than me. And lo and behold it worked the very first night.

Still reading all of her great advice for getting even newborns on a routine, I just wished I had found this book earlier. Last week I had what should have been an insanely stressful post-vacation four days with a strained back and a huge copyedit that needed to be overnighted to NYC by Saturday, but b/c I could at least count on Betty taking two naps a day with her newly established routine and also because I Baby & Me Yoga’ed the strained back away, I was finished by Friday and got it out the door without much fuss. Glorious.

Tracy Hogg also stresses the importance of solving one problem at a time for your baby as opposed to trying to transform her sleeping, eating and behavioral habits at the same time. Funnily enough, I realized that I could also apply that to myself. Right now I’m eating whatever I want since it’s the holidays, but actively solving the problem of not exercising. Same goes for my writing. Last week, I only worked on copyedits, and now I’m focusing on the long overdue rewrite of¬† my sci-fi novel until the end of the year and letting everything else fall to the wayside. One thing at a time, and it’s been doing wonders for my mental health.

Anywho, I hope this helps other soon-to-be or new-new moms out there. And for the other only-sorta-new-moms-now reading this post, please let us know what tools or knowledge you wish you had had before your baby came along.